Northampton Saints Foundation ambassador Harry Mallinder praised volunteers Douglas Ferguson and Melvin Hayward as the duo scooped the HITZ Champion Award at last week's HITZ Awards.
Premiership Rugby's award-winning education and employability programme, HITZ, culminated in a celebration of students and volunteers' achievements the HITZ Awards at BT Centre last Wednesday.
And Mallinder – who accompanied Saints' three nominees Douglas Ferguson, Melvyn Hayward and Tyrell Wilson to the glittering ceremony – had nothing but praise for the programme that helps more than 2,000 14-18 year olds across England every year.
"The work that goes on is absolutely incredible and I’d urge anyone who has a slight interest in to come down and see what actually goes on."Harry Mallinder, Saints Foundation Ambassador
"I first came to one of these HITZ awards four years ago, at the time I didn’t know much about what really went on," Mallinder said.
"Since then, it’s been something that I’ve been quite heavily involved with in our Northampton branch and it’s something that I’m quite passionate about because I really feel like the work that goes on is absolutely incredible and I’d urge anyone who has a slight interest in to come down and see what actually goes on.
"These people are changing the lives of young people in the local community for the better, whether it be getting them back into school, or work opportunities or apprenticeships, whatever it may be its different for every individual but it’s incredible."
And the Saints Foundation's efforts were commended in the ceremony as Ferguson and Hayward collected the Champion Award together - recognising the pair's selfless labours giving up their time to deliver bespoke CV writing and interview skills workshops to HITZ students.
Mallinder continued: "This year in particular, Doug and Mel have put on CV and interview writing workshops which went across five weeks and I sat in on all the sessions.
"You see these kids from the first session where they’re not interested, headphones in and hoods up and backs to Doug and Mel talking, to then the final session where they’re sat down and upright looking smart in a suit and tie and they’re actually putting themselves in the position which they thought was a mock interview, but three of them this year from the Saints HITZ programme have now been offered jobs. It’s incredible to see that progression, to see how real it is, it's really cool.
"Even those guys that haven’t got the recognition, it’s a great experience for them to come down here, come into London, come into an event like this where you never know who you’re going to bump into, so for those who are rugby fans especially there is some pretty cool people floating about. It’s a good evening in general, to get everyone together to celebrate all the good work that’s going on at the various clubs."
To find out more about the HITZ programme at Northampton Saints, please CLICK HERE.